Is Your Family Prepared in Case of an Emergency?

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The heartbreaking stories coming out of the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian has got me thinking about what my family would do if we were in a similar situation. While New Yorkers typically don’t deal with hurricanes, we do face plenty of other emergency situations. Therefore, it is wise to have a family emergency plan in place.

I know it feels scary to think about, and it feels overwhelming, but taking a little bit of time today to prepare for an emergency tomorrow can make all the difference. And, for those working moms who already don’t have enough time, I am attaching links for as many pre-made tools as possible.

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Sign Up for Emergency Alerts

First, be sure to sign up for emergency alerts on your cell phone. These alerts are lifesavers. You will receive notifications for any potential emergency, including tornadoes and winter weather. You can do a quick Google search for your town and the word “alerts” to find the one for your area and opt-in for alerts.

Write Out Emergency Contacts

If you are like me, you don’t have very many phone numbers memorized. With cell phones, memorizing numbers is a thing of the past! However, in case of emergency, it is helpful to have your emergency contacts written out – and it is especially helpful if you have children. I like FEMA’s Family Emergency Communication Plan form, which also has space for email and social media handles. All you need to do is write out all your important phone numbers and save it.

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Have an Evacuation Plan

Next, give thought to where your family would meet and go if there was an emergency. Then, communicate this plan clearly with your family and anyone else it involves (such as evacuating to a different family member’s home). The American Red Cross has an excellent Family Disaster Plan template. Likewise, it is important to have a fire escape plan for your family. For an example and checklist, see the National Fire Protection Association’s Home Fire Escape Plan.

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Store Important Documents Safely

It is also important to store your family’s important documents safely. You want to place documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and passports in a fire safe and waterproof storage container. Use The Spruce’s guide to The 8 Best Fireproof Safes of 2019 to help you shop.

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Prepare an Emergency Kit

Last but not least, it is wise to prepare a family emergency kit. This kit should include the essentials for your family in case of an emergency. Ideally, the items should be stored in a duffle bag or storage container that is easy to grab and go in the event of an emergency. If you want to pack your own emergency kit, see FEMA’s Emergency Supply Checklist. If you don’t have time to put one together yourself, you can purchase a pre-made emergency kit from the American Red Cross, which includes first aid supplies, emergency food, and other essentials.

Remember – a little planning today can make a huge difference tomorrow. Here’s hoping your family never has any need to use your family emergency plans.

Is Fall the Best Season of All? Here are Some of My Favorite Things About Fall

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While fall does not officially begin until September 23, 2019, it sure feels like we all start embracing all things fall right after Labor Day. Now, you all know, I love summer. So, to make myself feel better about saying goodbye to summer, I’ve been thinking about all the reasons fall may be the best season of all.

Fall Fashion

Naturally, one of the main reasons I look forward to fall is for the fashion! Fall is the time of year when we put away our summer clothes and embrace darker colors, boots, and sweaters.

Fall Temperatures

I wish we had fall temperatures all year in New York City. Unfortunately, we don’t. So, when the temperatures drop below burning hot and have not reached freezing, it is the perfect time of the year temperature-wise.

Fall Beverages

When fall rolls around, we all become pumpkin-spice crazy. However, that is not the only fall beverage I look forward to each year. Fall also means being able to drink hot chocolate more often and enjoy ciders on weekend afternoons.

Fall Food

Likewise, there are some foods that are more enjoyable in the fall. For example, I don’t typically like to eat soups when it is hot outside, but I crave soups in the fall. Plus, fall means apples, pumpkins, and spices.

Fall Holidays

I also love fall because it is the start of the holiday marathon. October has Halloween and November has Thanksgiving (followed by Black Friday – a personal favorite). I find it is so nice to have a holiday to look forward to each month.

Fall Adventures

Since fall brings outstanding temperatures, it is the perfect time to get outdoors. Fall is the ideal hiking season. Plus, there are some outdoor adventures that can only take place in fall, such as apple picking and pumpkin patch visits. And, the kids get out of school for fall break. Be sure to take a look at these 9 Fall Break Ideas for NYC Families I put together to start planning!

Fall Colors

I love to take a weekend each fall to go on a family adventure to see the leaves changing colors. I love all the autumnal colors – and they make a great background for family photos!

Fall Décor

Everyone likes fall décor, but what makes it extra special is that you can use it for more than one month. For example, for Christmas, you get about one month. But, for fall, you can have oranges and yellows in your home from September through November.

Fall Television

Another reason to look forward to the fall is brand new television. It means new seasons of my favorite shows and brand-new shows to test out. Click here for the Premiere Dates and Schedule for Every New and Returning Show for Fall 2019.

What do you think? Is fall your favorite season? Are you crazy for pumpkin-spice or are you totally over it? Are you still mourning summer like me?

How to Get the Whole Family Clean After a Hot Day

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This blog has been compensated by Dial®. #DialFamilyFavs #sponsored

Let’s talk about things we love. I love Target (as all moms everywhere shout out in agreement). I love that Target has everything I need and then some. I love that I can escape the busyness of the city by slipping through the doors of Target.

I love summer. I love that things slow down a bit and I get to spend more time with my girls. I love that it warms up and we get to stay outdoors for hours.

Here’s what I don’t love. I don’t love when the summer gets so hot that you turn sticky and sweaty and feel like you are always dirty — it kind of ruins the fun of playing outdoors when you end up feeling gross. But, the good people at Dial® brand have come to my rescue time and time again this summer.

For those moms who get what I am saying about the hot, sticky, dirty summer blues, I am here to tell you how you can revive your summer, still have fun, and get clean after a long, hot day.

Load Up on Fun and Supplies at Target

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When summer is starting to become a chore, it’s time to head back to the glorious haven known as Target. Since you can count on Target to have everything you need, it is a one trip shopping excursion. Pick up some goodies for outdoor play, some cute summer outfits, some special summer food and drinks, and some summer scented cleaning supplies.
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If you love Target as much as I do, then you have likely heard about Cartwheel. Cartwheel is Target’s genius money-saving feature on the Target app. If you haven’t started taking advantage of this super easy money-saving program, the time to start is yesterday! Here’s how it works:

1. Download the app at Cartwheel.com or Target.com.

2.       Create a new account or log into your already existing Target account.

3.       If you have a Target REDcard or Target gift cards, you should add them to your account.

4.       When shopping in Target, you can open the app to find nearby offers (Cartwheel coupons).

5.       In the stores, Target will place some signs advertising Cartwheel app discounts. However, there are TONS more offers on the app, so don’t just look for in-store signs on products.

6.       The app allows users to search for deals according to categories. Plus, the app creates a list of personalized offers based on your previous purchases.

7.       When you see an offer you want, simply click the + sign and it will be added to your Cartwheel.

8.       When it is time to check out, you scan the app’s “wallet” barcode, and your Cartwheel offers will be applied.

See how easy it is to save money at your favorite place on the items you love? 

Stock Up on Dial® Brand Products

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Here’s even more exciting news: Cartwheel will have a 10% off deal on Dial® Brand products while supplies last.

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For those who have been paying attention, I love Target, and I love summer. But, I do not love feeling gross at the end of a hot summer day. That’s where my love for Dial® Brand comes in. My family trusts Dial® Brand products because they have been in the business of helping people get clean since the 1940s. They are quality products at low prices – especially when you can find them on sale using Cartwheel. When my family comes in sticky and sweaty, I know I can trust Dial® Brand to help us all feel clean and fresh.

Give Your Kids a Good Scrub with Dial® Kids Body + Hair Wash

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This summer, my girls tried out two different Dial® Kids Body + Hair Wash scents: watery-melon and peachy clean. They loved both scents equally – and I found the scents very refreshing as I hugged them close and sniffed their clean hair. Not only do they smell great, but they also are two-in-one products combining body wash and hair care. Ask any mom, and she’ll tell you – this is genius! It saves you time and tears at bath time. And, finally, Dial® Kids Body + Hair Wash was developed by pediatric dermatologists. Who better to trust with your precious little ones’ skin?
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Dial® brand also offers outstanding products for mom and dad. After a long day of playing with kids outdoors and then handling bath time and bedtime, you deserve some me time. I love having time to myself to clean all the dirt and grime from playing outdoors and exercising. So, I was thrilled to discover Dial® Himalayan Salt Body Wash, which works so well to clean and exfoliate my skin. I leave the bath feeling clean and refreshed and ready to do summer all over again the next day.
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Once again, you can find my favorite Dial® brand products at your local Target. Be sure to take advantage of the Cartwheel offer before supplies run out!

10 Ways to Keep Your Love Strong 10 Years In

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My husband and I recently celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. I am so thankful that I have spent the last ten years married to the best man, best father, and best husband. But, after ten years, I have learned that marriage takes work. If you want to keep the spark alive ten years in, there are some things you have to do.

1. Schedule Regular Date Nights

Date nights are an absolute must – especially a decade later! You need a night away from the kids to remember the two of you as a couple. Date nights give you an opportunity to dress up, flirt, and enjoy each other’s company. Go ahead and schedule a monthly babysitter – it is worth it!

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2. Do Things You Love Together

This many years later, I am so glad my husband and I have common interests. If you can find something you love to do together, it can make a huge difference. We love eating and traveling, so we try to do these things together as often as possible.

3. Keep Communicating

It’s easy to stop communicating as often when you think you already know everything there is to know about your spouse. Believe it or not, my husband still tells me stories I haven’t heard before. Keep talking to one another. Text each other throughout the day and indulge in some pillow talk each night before bed.

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4. Give Gifts

I love it when my hubs surprises me with a special gift – it never gets old! To this day, if I see something I think he’d like, I either go ahead and buy it for him or add it to the wishlist for a future holiday gift. This reminds your spouse you know what he loves and that you think about him even when you are apart.

5. Make an Effort

Let’s be honest for a second. It is really easy to let yourself go a little when you are comfortable. While it is great to be comfortable enough with each other to no longer feel the need to get all dolled up, you should still try to make an effort to look nice for your spouse (especially on date night). Go ahead and wear that outfit he loves you in!

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6. Try Something New Together

If things are starting to feel predictable after ten years, that is normal. But, it is also a sign that you guys need to freshen things up a bit. Find something new to try together (and we don’t just mean in the bedroom). Find a new hobby the two of you can enjoy together.

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7. Say Thank You Often

After ten years, you may find that you take each other for granted. Instead, make an extra effort to continue thanking your spouse for the things he does. Gratitude goes a long way in keeping marriages healthy and happy.

8. Spend Time with People Who Value Marriage

Spend time with people who value marriage rather than people who spend all their time complaining about their husbands or marriage in general. Those who value marriage will encourage you to work things out when you inevitably have a fight, and they will be the ones most willing to babysit for a much-needed date night.

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9. Reflect on Your Years Together

Ten years of marriage is a big deal! You have 10+ years of memories to reflect on. Take time to share favorite memories and talk about the difficult seasons you overcame with each other’s help. And, make plans and dream about the next ten years!

10. Don’t Stop Touching

Finally, don’t stop touching. For some reason, when couples have been together for a while, they stop holding hands, cuddling, and kissing as often. Don’t let this happen to you. The next time you are out, grab his hand! Tonight when you binge-watch tv, sit close and cuddle. Tomorrow when you get home from work, give him a smooch.

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Wellness Needs for Every Woman

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There’s much talk about wellness these days, and I am here for it. As women, we too often put our own well-being on the back burner while taking care of everyone else around us. When we do, we feel depleted. When we burn out helping others instead of ourselves, we put our overall health and well-being at risk. Ladies, it’s time to take charge of our wellness.

Healthy Eating

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Let’s talk about food. I love food, but I have learned that what I eat really matters. I’m not saying you have to be extreme when it comes to what you eat – I love a savory carb-filled meal and a sweet delicious sugary treat. However, I’ve learned that when I am not balancing my indulgences with healthy meals, it takes a toll on my body. I feel gross. Since I know this is true for myself, I take strides to eat healthier.

Proper Sleep

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When you are a working mom, it seems like you never have enough time. So, you wind up staying up late at night trying to get to the things you didn’t during the day. Or, we toss and turn all night worrying. According to Everyday Health, “81% of woman report having problems getting a good night’s sleep daily. When women get a bad night’s sleep, they are 4x more likely to feel irritated or angry.” If I want to smile, I need to sleep.

Regular Exercise

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I always feel better after I exercise. I know not every woman feels the same, but regular exercise is important. The American Heart Association recommends, “Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.”

Self-Care Management

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Another wellness area many women tend to neglect is self-care. Women often feel guilty for taking time to do something for themselves. If this sounds like you, stop it now! I am all about self-care – whether it is a spa day, yoga, or meditation – you need to take time to do something that improves your overall well-being from time to time.

Staying Up to Date with Annual Physicals

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Yes, life is busy. But it isn’t too busy for you to skip your annual physical exams (especially not for years at a time). No, they are not fun, but they are absolutely necessary. It is at annual physical exams and mammograms where doctors can identify possible issues. It’s always better to be proactive than find a problem too late.

Work/Life Balance

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Finally, achieving a solid work/life balance will do wonders for your overall well-being. According to Everyday Health, “Financial health is tied to our wellness.” Therefore, it is natural for women to work hard at their jobs. However, we should not allow work to be the only thing that defines us or determines our wellness. Instead, it is important to do things outside of work that bring you joy. By having a healthy and happy work/life balance, you will do better at your job and feel better about yourself.

Shop Well – Not Cheap

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It’s no secret that I love to shop. I love it so much that I recently became a personal shopper at Neiman Marcus – you can see all the fun I’m having with this new gig and all my favorite looks on my Insta @inrachelstyles. As I have grown older and wiser, I have learned the secret to shopping for shoes, purses, and clothing. Shop well- not cheap.

When you are young and living paycheck to paycheck, it is so easy to fall for fast-fashion and snap up everything for your closet from stores like Forever 21 and H&M. Now hear me out – you can find some good looks at stores that sell cheap clothing. But, the problem is these clothes do not last, and people can tell they are cheap.

Instead, it is much wiser to shop well rather than cheap. I’d much rather spend more money on clothing that is well-designed, well-made, and long-lasting.

Longer Lasting Clothing

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When you shop cheap, you are simply looking at the price tag when you should be factoring in the number of times the item will be worn. Fashion experts refer to this as the cost per wear equation. As Glamour explains, “The simplest version of that math is dividing the price on the label by how many times you think you'll wear the item.” Glamour also has a cost per wear calculator on their site for easy use.

What you will likely discover is that you end up spending less money in the long run on higher cost clothing this way. For example, the cheap shirt you purchased may only be able to be worn a few times before it shows wear and tear, whereas the high-quality coat you purchased is worn for several years.

Higher Quality Materials

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The reason the more expensive products typically last longer is that they are better made. Rather than being mass-produced at fast speeds (resulting in less than the best seams, embroidering, and such), these products are developed with better materials, such as natural fibers like silk and wool, in a less demanding amount of time.

Better Resale Value

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Women change out their closets pretty regularly as fashions change. Therefore, it is important to consider the resale value of your clothing when you purchase it originally. For example, you will likely get pennies (if anything) for that shirt you purchased at Forever 21, but you can earn a nice chunk when you resell high-end designer goods.

Less is More

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Finally, it is wise to embrace the notion that “less is more.” Wouldn’t you rather have a few, high-end, well-made, designer goods than a bunch of cheap items that fall apart easily before the next season? I know that matters to me. It is easy to get caught up in the idea of “more, more, more,” but if it gets in the way of looking good and feeling good, that’s a hard pass for me. Less is more, ladies, less is more.

How to Survive an NYC Heat Wave

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Last week in New York was brutal! A crazy heatwave hit, and it was sweltering. Those of us who call NYC home aren’t accustomed to temps this high – and apparently, the city as a whole isn’t either since 50,000 lost power!

Now before you think I am overreacting, you should know that this heatwave was deadly. This last heatwave has been blamed for at least 6 deaths. A heatwave of this magnitude should be taken seriously. Unfortunately, for many of us, we don’t know how to handle a heatwave because we don’t deal with them frequently.

So today I’m sharing tips on how to survive an NYC heatwave so we can all be better prepared next time.

Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

When you hear that a heatwave can be deadly, this is because high temperatures can cause heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke is more serious than heat exhaustion. If you suspect you or someone else is suffering from heat stroke, you need to call 9-1-1 immediately.

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To distinguish between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, refer to the above illustration. The basic idea is if you start to feel unwell, it is best to get indoors and try to cool off.

Fill Up on H2O

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Next, if you know it is going to be hot, it is best to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Take a water bottle with you wherever you go. If you are forced to be outdoors, it is even a good idea to wet your clothes with cool water.

Dress Lightly

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Another way to stay cool is to dress appropriately for the hot temperatures. Avoid any clothing that is tight or made of thick fabrics. Instead, you should wear light, loose clothing that allows your skin to breathe easier. Fortunately, there are plenty of fashionable options that are designed for hot temperatures, such as sundresses and palazzo pants.

Stay Wet

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If you simply can’t stay indoors and must go outdoors, choose water activities where you can stay wet. For example, my daughters enjoyed early morning swims. They got some of their daily physical activity in the pool before it reached the hottest point of the day.

Use This as an Excuse to Bond Indoors

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Finally, the best way to survive an NYC heatwave is to stay indoors! Use the excessive heat as an excuse to hang out at home, catch up on indoor tasks, and bond with your family. My daughters entertained us with dancing performances and comedy routines. We relaxed and just enjoyed the time we had with one another without all the distractions we usually have.

A heatwave is the perfect excuse to make some homemade popsicles, bust out your favorite board games, and watch classic films. When you start to feel stir-crazy, just remind yourself the heatwave will be over before you know it, winter will arrive, and you will be begging for the summer to return.

5 Black Must-Haves for Every Wardrobe

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Black is one of my favorite classic colors. If it’s not yours, I’m here to change your mind and help you embrace the ultimate classic color that is perfect for every wardrobe. There really is no point in hesitating – black will never go out of style.

Why Black Will Never Go Out of Style

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  • Black makes you look slim and hides imperfections. The number one reason why women everywhere love to wear black is that it is thinning! The color works to make you look slim, and it also helps to hide any fat or imperfections you may have.

  • Black is sexy and classy. If you are ever unsure what color is appropriate to wear in what setting, you can never go wrong with black. Black holds the title for being both classy AND sexy.

  • Black is easy to accessorize and pair. This simple color is also well-loved because it is so easy to accessorize or coordinate outfits with! When you wear black, you can wear all different colored accessories. Likewise, a black shirt pairs with any color pants and black pants pair well with any color shirt. With this in mind, having black essentials in your wardrobe makes it easier for you to get dressed in less amount of time.

  • Black knows no age, season, or skin tones. You can wear black no matter how old you are, what season it is, or what your skin tone is like. Black works in the summer as well as the winter. It looks great on pale or dark skin. Black makes both college girls and their grandmothers look on-trend.

The 5 Black Must-Haves for Every Female Wardrobe

Now that I have convinced you that black is here to stay and is a must for your wardrobe, let me break down five of the essential black wardrobe pieces you should own.

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Black Shoes – Of course I am going to start with shoes! Because of my love for shoes, I can’t narrow it down to one type of black shoes. Let’s just say you need to have a fabulous pair of black shoes for each season and a pair of black dress shoes for any formal occasions.

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An LBD – Ladies, if you do not own an LBD (little black dress), you need to head to the store right away! This is a quintessential wardrobe piece that will come in handy at a moment’s notice. Sudden formal invite? An LBD is perfect!

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A Black Coat – Coats come in many colors, but if you want a coat that will still be fashionable years later, go with black.

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Black Pants – Black pants (or trousers) are slimming and another key piece of any woman’s wardrobe as they can be paired with a variety of different colored tops.

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A Black Purse – As purse crazy as I am, I am the first to admit that a black bag should be a top priority. Not only will the color never go out of style, but a black bag hides stains and dirt.

It’s Time to Stop Looking at Your Pics Only on Your Phone and Print Them Out

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Moms, we have a problem. We have started to rely solely on our phones to collect and store all of our precious photos. I’m guilty of this, and I bet you are, too. I take tons of pictures on my phone every day, but for what purpose? It’s not like I am printing them out or viewing them regularly. They are just taking up memory space on my phone.

I’m not telling you to stop taking pictures. No way! I think the ability to snap pics anytime we want is one of the best things about modern technology. What I am talking about is the fact that we don’t ever print them out. Why take all these pics if you aren’t ever going to see them? If you have countless photos stored on your phone but not on your walls, this one is for you.

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Technology will fail.

We have all experienced a technology fail. As much as we would like to believe our photos are safe on our phones or our computers, these things crash, and our photos crash right alongside them. Plus, even if you have wisely uploaded all your photos to a cloud storage system, it doesn’t mean you will always have the technology to access and view them.

You will actually look at them.

If you are anything like me, you do look through photos on your phone. However, with the huge number of photos, you likely don’t go all the way back and look at photos from years ago. Who does that? Many moms rely solely on social media flashbacks to see their old pics. But, if you have them printed out, you will actually look at the pics from years past.

They make great gifts.

Few things make grandparents happier than receiving a printed photo of their grandkids. Just go ahead and make your life easier at the holidays by printing off a few of your best pics and purchasing a variety of frames.

They are the best ways to personalize your décor.

We all want our house to feel like a home. One way to achieve this is to personalize your décor using photos of your family. Now this will vary according to your style tastes. I don’t like a lot of clutter on my walls, but I still think you can very tastefully decorate with personal photos.

Your kids will thank you.

Let’s face it. Someday we will no longer be here, and our kids will want to have something physical to remember us by. Our photo albums and prints will be precious to them, just like we treasure our parent’s scrapbooks.

Here are some fun things to do with your prints:

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  • Old-fashioned photo album – There is nothing wrong with using an old-fashioned photo album to store your prints. The fact is it is a book you and your kids can look through from time to time – no need to be fancy unless you want to.

  • Printed scrapbooks – There are so many companies, such as Shutterfly, that allow you to create customized scrapbooks online using your digital photos. For the moms who are the busiest, there is also Chatbooks, which regularly prints out your Instagram photos and send them to you in a book.

  • Make stickers or postcards – In addition to the more traditional ways to print out photos, there are online companies which make it easy to turn your Instagram pics into stickers or postcards. These are perfect for school-aged kids!

  • Create a gallery wall – As shown above, I recently used Storyboards to create a gallery wall in the breakfast nook of my home of some of my favorite pics. I am over the moon with how well it turned out! It was super easy and looks awesome.

Have You Played Today? Why Adults Should Embrace Play

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“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

Remember when recess was the best part of the day? Why is it that adults stop playing? Why are we always so serious? If you have been wondering why you are feeling down, consider the last time you played. I’m willing to bet it is has been a long time since you genuinely played. True play uplifts your spirits!

As a working mom, I get it. We are so busy that it is hard to find time to play. Then, when we do have time, we feel a little guilty. No more! According to psychologists, play is vital (especially for adults!). One researcher told the Washington Post, “Play is a basic human need as essential to our well-being as sleep, so when we’re low on play, our minds and bodies notice.”

To help you get past the guilt of playing, check out these five solid reasons for giving childlike play a place in your life.

Play to bond.

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Playing is fun, and if you are having fun with the ones you love, you are making memories. Play creates bonding opportunities between parents and their kids; plus, play is also a wonderful way to bond with your partner or rekindle the flames.

Play to relieve stress.

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Playing is a great way to release tension. When you play, you can escape what is worrying you. If you are facing a stressful situation, you can playful attitude can help you handle it in stride. One study found playful personality types “reported less stress in their lives and possessed better coping skills. Perhaps they have these attributes because they are better able to keep stress in perspective.”

Play to increase overall satisfaction.

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When you key into the type of play you enjoy and find ways to play this way more regularly, you will find more satisfaction in your life overall. Some companies have even embraced the idea by incorporating play into their offices or by taking employees on fun outings where they can play like kids (such as go-karting).

Play to strengthen cognitive skills.

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Numerous studies have proven that playing games improves cognitive skills, which is why older adults are encouraged to play such games. Help Guide explains, “Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function.” But why wait until you are elderly? Start playing puzzle games on your cell phone today!

Play to improve your health.

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According to KCHA, “Playing can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you feel your best.” A natural benefit of physical play is that it is good for your heart and overall health. If you loved riding your bike as a kid or enjoyed roller skating, it is time to bust them out again! Have active fun and stay healthy!

Your assignment for today

Do something you loved doing as a kid. Embrace play — comment below to tell me what you did.